—Emotiva XPA-200 / USP-1 combo: Stereo music lovers looking for a new receiver should consider this instead. For $769 you can get a high performance separate amplifier and preamplifier with a very strong 150 watts / channel of clean power. You get both higher performance and the flexibility and cachet of separate components. www.emotiva.com
—Panasonic DMC-G6 camera: This Micro Four Thirds interchangeable lens camera sells for around $600 and offers excellent still picture quality as well as video footage that looks like it came from a professional television camera. If video is your thing, this is your camera. The rounded shape and small size makes it easy to carry and comfortable to hold. www.panasonic.com
—Sony Cyber-shot RX-100 camera: This is the king of pocket-sized cameras. The $599 RX-100 uses a 20.1 megapixel sensor that is much bigger than a typical compact camera for rich, beautiful pictures and great HD video, too. It's not cheap for a pocket camera, but it is worth it when you see the pictures. www.sonystyle.com
—GoldenEar Aon 3 speakers: Probably the best-sounding bookshelf speaker I have ever hear, the $999 / pair GoldenEar Aon 3 has transparent, open sound that bested $20,000 speakers I heard at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show. Every product I have ever heard from GoldenEar, from their bookshelf speakers to their sound bar, has been an absolute knockout. www.goldenear.com
GIFTS OVER $1,000
—Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera: The OM-D E-M1 is the follow-up to last year's OM-D E-M5, a camera that practically ran the table of camera of the year awards. The new E-M1 is probably the single best camera on the planet overall and was a camera of the year winner this year, for back-to-back victories for Olympus. The OM-D E-M1 represents the future of photography with its very clear, very large, electronic viewfinder, high-speed focus and shooting capabilities, wide variety of creative options from art filters to HD video recording, and a sensor and image processing that allow even novices to produce technically stunning images with the push of a button. If you know a photographer who has been very good this year, get this. Camera body is $1,399 and there are more than 40 lenses available. www.getolympus.com
—Ohm Walsh speakers: These unique, handmade-in-the-USA speakers have stood the test of time and have been refined over 40 years of continuous production. They use patented technology to produce stunningly beautiful sound combined with a realistic 3-D soundfield that must be experienced to be appreciated. There is a good chance your pair will become a family heirloom, passed down from generation to generation. $1,250 / pair and up. www.ohmspeaker.com
—Sony XBR-55X900 / XBR-65X900 XBR 4K Ultra HDTV: There may not be much 4K content available yet, but if you want to future-proof yourself with the best 4K TV going, this is the way to go. The 55-inch version sells for $3,499; 65-inch version is $4,999. www.sonystyle.com
©2013 McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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